Ark Energy Announces Massive NQ Clean Energy Hub
21 September 2022: Ark Energy Announces Massive NQ Clean Energy Hub
Solar Citizens today responds to news that Ark Energy will develop a 3,000MW renewable energy hub near Collinsville by 2030.
“There’s currently about 3,000 MW of large-scale solar and wind projects operating in Queensland, so today’s announcement by Ark Energy represents a doubling of the State’s large-scale clean energy capacity,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“The biggest renewable energy project operating in the State right now is the 450 MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm and construction is starting on the 1,000 MW Macintyre wind precinct.
“This is an exciting step towards Ark Energy achieving their goal of becoming a major global renewable hydrogen exporter right here from North Queensland.
“To realise their goals of having a 3,500 MW hydrogen production facility in Townsville by 2040, Ark Energy will need access to at least 7,700 MW of clean energy generation.
“Research shows that Northern Queensland is the cheapest place in the country to produce renewable hydrogen because the region has such good co-located solar and wind resources. It’s a no-brainer to turbocharge clean energy investment here.
“Ark Energy is just one of several businesses that are looking to set up or expand clean industry in North Queensland. We’d like to see the Australian and Queensland governments work together to support these businesses by establishing Townsville as Australia’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct – a hub for renewable-powered manufacturing and industry.
“We need a planned vision for turning the whole region into a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse so we’re getting it right and investing in the infrastructure and workforce training the region needs.”
Australians’ Love of Utes Shows Need for Strong Vehicle Pollution Standards Across the Board
Thursday 15 September 2022: Australians’ Love of Utes Shows Need for Strong Vehicle Pollution Standards Across the Board
Today’s report by the National Transport Commission clearly shows we need strong and consistent fuel efficiency standards (FES) for all cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, says clean transport advocacy group Solar Citizens. The report indicates that, despite a tripling of electric vehicle (EV) sales, new car emissions are continuing to rise in part because of increasing SUV and ute sales.
“Australians love their utes, and the market is already responding to the demand for a right hand drive EV ute,” says Solar Citizens Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal.
“When electric utes arrive in Australia, we know that people will embrace them. Demand for EVs has never been higher and when Australians can pair their love of utes with the petrol and pollution savings of an electric model, they will leap at the opportunity.
“We're pleased that the Albanese Government has committed to investigating fuel efficiency standards – the key policy to accelerate the supply of affordable EVs and bring down transport emissions.
“Now we need to ensure that the standards we bring in are strong enough – without the loopholes that the petrol car lobby is calling for,” said Mr Haikerwal.
“Given the purchasing trends uncovered in today’s report, it's clear that we cannot have two different standards for cars and for SUVs and light commercial vehicles like utes, as the petrol car lobby is demanding. Failing to have strong pollution standards for Australia’s favourite vehicles will cause us to fall even further behind the rest of the world.
“With strong fuel efficiency standards we will see more and more EV options being available in Australia. New Zealand went from three to ten percent of new car sales being EVs in just under a year, after they introduced their FES equivalent, the Clean Car Standard.
“Petrol prices are affecting Australians from all walks of life – nurses, retail workers, tradies and office workers alike. No matter what car we have, if it's using petrol it's hurting our hip pockets. Addressing the supply issue of EVs with fuel efficiency standards will bring a range of EVs to the country and give people the opportunity to buy the electric car that suits them the most.”
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324
A Higher RET would be a Win for Queenslanders
8 September 2022: A Higher RET would be a Win for Queenslanders
Solar Citizens this morning responds to claims in The Australian that the Queensland Government is considering a higher renewable energy target in their upcoming 10-Year Energy Plan.
“We really encourage the Queensland Government to go beyond their 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target to keep up to speed with the rest of the country and maximise opportunities in new clean export markets,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“At the moment Queensland is only getting about 20 per cent of our energy from renewables, while other states are rushing ahead, like Tasmania that operates on almost 100 per cent renewables and South Australia running at 66 per cent.
“Over the last year Queensland has had the highest wholesale electricity prices in Australia's main grid because we rely the most on globally expensive fossil fuels.
“An analysis we undertook with the Queensland Conservation Council found that Queensland could easily meet the 50 per cent renewable energy target five years early in 2025 due to the number of renewable projects likely to proceed across the State.
“Getting on with the transformation of our energy system will not only bring down wholesale power prices, it will also set the Sunshine State up to capitalise on clean manufacturing and export industries.
“We analysed a number of clean industry proposals around Townsville, which include solar panel and battery manufacturing and renewable hydrogen production, and found that these projects will create an extra 3,600 MW of demand in the region. The State Government must keep enabling more renewable energy projects to come online so projects like these have access to affordable energy.”
Last week Solar Citizens released polling of the Townsville Local Government Area that found:
55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.
85% support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
Australian Households feeling transport costs, electric vehicles could save thousands
6th September 2022: Australian Households feeling transport costs, electric vehicles could save thousands
Released today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Monthly Household Spending Indicator shows that in July, spending related to transport was a record high at an increase of 35.4%. Solar Citizens have today released an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, showing how much households could save by switching to electric vehicles.
“Australian households are feeling the pain of soaring petrol prices acutely, yet we could have avoided this if we had secured a stronger supply of affordable electric vehicles years ago”, said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“When we recently surveyed over 1,700 of our supporters, the vast majority told us that they are very concerned about how rising petrol prices are impacting their cost of living, and 64% are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle sometime in the next three years,” said Haikerwal.
Solar Citizens has developed an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, to help consumers find out how much cheaper it is to run cars through home solar or the electricity grid than it is to run an equivalent petrol car.
As an example, Risyad Abmar, a 27 year old nurse from Melbourne is currently paying an extra $200 each month on petrol. He calculated that if he switched from a Kia Sportage to an equivalent Kia EV6, he could expect to save nearly $20 for every 100km – over $2,000 in a single year of driving.
“Household transport costs have ballooned since April this year, and people are really feeling the strain. Today’s ABS data tells us that unless we can help Aussies make the switch to an EV, transport costs will continue to drain our wallets and bank accounts, and line the pockets of Russian oil barons.
“Petrol prices have rocketed sky-high since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Everyday Australians are paying the price for our dependence on a volatile international fuel supply, whereas if we had EVs—especially those charged on home solar—we wouldn’t be dangerously vulnerable to foreign oil prices and availability.
“We have the biggest uptake of solar energy per capita in the world, and running electric cars via home solar is a no brainer, and can be up to 98% cheaper than paying petrol prices.
“We made a tool that will help anyone see the facts and figures about why making the switch to an EV would really help their hip pockets in the long term.
“Our calculator demonstrates that if Australians could get their hands on EVs, they could slash their transport costs by hundreds of dollars each year by utilising grid energy, or even better – using the sunshine hitting their solar panels on their own roofs.
“Because of the stalling of successive Federal Governments and sabotage from the petrol car lobby, we are yet to see our fair share of affordable EVs in the Australian market. We need globally competitive Fuel Efficiency Standards within the next year to ensure we have our place in the global queue.
Fuel Efficiency Standards are widely regarded as the key policy measure to securing a supply of EVs in Australia. We are one of four G20 countries not to have implemented this policy.
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)
AEMO Forecast Confirms Aussie Homes Need Battery Subsidy
31 August 2022: AEMO Forecast Confirms Aussie Homes Need Battery Subsidy
Released today, the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Electricity Statement of Opportunities supports the federal government in implementing new policies to drive the uptake of home batteries.
“The AEMO report identifies a clear gap in federal government planning - they urgently need to provide support for home battery storage to minimise risks to our national electricity market”, said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.
Solar Citizens is campaigning for a policy like a Renewable Energy Storage Target, which would provide a rebate on home batteries including electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capacity.
“Australia already has the biggest uptake of home solar per capita in the world. So it just makes good financial sense to marry our home solar with home batteries, as this eases pressure on our electricity grid and saves money for consumers.”
“With AEMO’s news that Snowy 2.0 is now 2 years behind, the Albanese government can get a quick win for everyday Australians, addressing the cost of living and energy crisis, by providing incentives for behind-the-meter storage. This will also help to continue to drive our uptake of home solar.“
“Being energy independent helps the hip pockets of everyday Australians who will save money on power bills, rather than leaving them vulnerable to gas and coal energy price rises and unpredictability.”
“AEMO forecast cites “the importance of policy and consumer support for demand side solutions, and the increased requirement for utility-scale solutions should these forecast solutions not materialise.” In plain English that means if we consumers don’t get support from the government for home batteries, the government is going to need to look at more large-scale battery storage being built”.
“Our recent survey of 1700 Australians found that people overwhelmingly want cheaper clean technology solutions like solar, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries to help bring down their bills. But many households are still facing barriers. “
“Nearly half of those surveyed with solar panels are saving a whopping 70% or more on their power bill - or are usually in credit. But just 20% have a home battery despite half of the solar owners wanting one. Most said that the cost is keeping batteries out of reach for now, and the majority wanted a $3000 government subsidy to enable them to afford home batteries”.
“That’s why we’re calling for measures that will help make batteries more affordable – like a battery storage target similar to the highly successful Renewable Energy Target.”
Media contact: National Director Heidi Lee Douglas, 0401 092 570
Solar Citizens' petition calling on the Federal Government to roll out affordable battery storage can be found here.
North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition
29 August 2022: North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition
New polling of the Townsville Local Government Area has revealed that a staggering 85 per cent of residents support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
The poll of 610 Townsville residents was conducted by UComms for community group Solar Citizens. It also found 55 per cent agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030.
“Businesses are lining up to start manufacturing clean products in Townsville because of the region’s impressive solar and wind resources, and good port facilities,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“Already there are significant plans to begin producing renewable hydrogen and manufacture battery materials and solar panels locally. These polling results clearly show that the community supports projects like these to power long-term good jobs.
“It’s now up to the State Government to make sure these proposed projects proceed. They can do that by announcing plans to turn Townsville into a clean manufacturing hub and ensuring enough cheap renewable energy is coming online locally to meet growing demand.”
This polling comes as the Queensland Government is developing a 10-Year Energy Plan that will plan for the State’s energy system up to 2032 when Queensland will host the world’s first climate positive Olympics. The plan is expected to be released in the coming months.
When polled, 62 per cent of local residents agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar. Fifty five per cent said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by the 2032 Olympics.
Similarly, 55 per cent agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
“Queensland is well behind other Australian states as we only generate about 20 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources. Our reliance on expensive coal and gas means we have the highest wholesale power prices in Australia’s main grid,” said Ms Gray.
“The irony is that we have some of the country’s best solar and wind resources, especially in North Queensland where we get more than 300 days of sunshine. Building more renewable energy here is a no brainer.
“We’d like to see the Queensland Government deliver a sensible plan to urgently transform our energy system with affordable renewable energy. Only then will Queensland be competitively positioned to make the most of our potential to power new clean manufacturing industries.”
55% agree or strongly agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030. 75% of Labor voters agree or strongly agree.
85% strongly support or support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
62% agree or strongly agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.
When asked what the deadline should be for moving to a renewables-powered grid, the most common answer was 10 years or less (35%), followed by 10-15 years (22%).
Similarly, 55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.
55% agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
Rhian first began working as an electrician in North Queensland’s sugar industry and later took work closer to home at the Sun Metals’ zinc refinery in Townsville.
In 2018, Sun Metals commissioned a 124 MW solar farm to help reduce the running costs of the refinery. For Rhian, the move to working in renewable energy was an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and progress his career. When the opportunity came up, he leapt at the chance to work on the development of the solar farm.
Rhian is now employed by Ark Energy, Sun Metals’ sister company, as the Operations and Maintenance Manager for the solar farm. Impressively, today the solar farm produces the equivalent of a third of the refinery's energy needs.
“Ark Energy felt like the perfect fit for me. There is so much room to learn new skills and grow into the future,” said Rhian.
“Working in renewable energy is great because it’s ever-evolving. I’m never bored. I’m always learning and I love it.
“I have two young boys and it will be great for them to grow up knowing that their dad was involved in the transition to cleaner energy.”
Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, has progressive plans to develop a 3,500 MW renewable hydrogen facility in Townsville by 2040. In 2030, they are aiming to have established a 900 MW electrolyser, which will require up to 2,200 MW of renewable energy generation to run.
Rhian is one of the Ark Energy teammates who is working to establish a renewable hydrogen pilot at the zinc refinery site. The renewable hydrogen fuel generated from the project will be used to power five new fuel-cell electric trucks.
Ark Energy's mission is to become the safest and most competitive producer of green hydrogen in the world and Townsville is at the heart of their plans.
Plan to Accelerate Electric Vehicles Welcomed
19th August 2022: Plan to Accelerate Electric Vehicles Welcomed
Clean transport advocate Solar Citizens has today welcomed a plan by the Federal Government to get Australia into the fast lane on electric vehicles (EVs) by investigating Fuel Efficiency Standards as part of the upcoming National Electric Vehicle Strategy.
“As everyday Australians feel the strain of the cost of living crisis, we’re hearing cries out for affordable EVs, which are cheaper to run and maintain than petrol vehicles. Today, the Government is saying “we hear you” and putting us firmly in the queue to secure a reliable supply of affordable EVs,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“Fuel Efficiency Standards will give car makers a limit on how much total carbon pollution new vehicles can produce. It shifts the onus and incentivises the industry to bring more electric models to Australia, opening up the market with more options and price points to help Australians make the switch.
“This is a sensible policy that would finally let Australia show up to the EV race. Although we have many examples from overseas that we can follow, we need to ensure Australia locks in a globally competitive standard as soon as possible.
“Already, vested interests like the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries (FCAI) are proposing watered-down versions of this scheme, but we need a robust Fuel Efficiency Standard that is aligned with a 1.5°C warming scenario to get up to speed with the international community – anything less is irresponsible.
“We know that manufacturers often overestimate the emissions savings of hybrids and plug-in hybrids, so although these vehicles are good for some amount of emissions reduction in the short term, we need a world-class standard with no loopholes for hybrids. No other country in the world includes credits for hybrids in its scheme.
“The last Federal Government dragged their feet on EV policy, so what we don’t want to see is a long, drawn out consultation process that sees us fall even further behind the rest of the world. We’re starting the global race for EVs from the carpark while other countries have already left the starting line.”
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)
Clean Technology the Solution to Lower Bills Says New Survey
Monday 15 August 2022: Clean Technology the Solution to Lower Bills Says New Survey
A new survey by community group Solar Citizens has shown the extent to which household solar is driving down power bills.
The nation-wide survey of 1,700 Australians has found that rooftop solar is providing significant reductions to household power bills, with 42 per cent of solar owners saying they save more than 70 per cent off their electricity bills or are usually in credit. A further 20 per cent of people say they’re saving more than 50 per cent off their bills.
The survey found households without solar were much more likely to be significantly concerned about rising electricity prices than those with solar.
“At the moment high global coal and gas prices are driving power bills through the roof. The only guaranteed way for households to shield themselves and bring down their electricity bills is to generate their own power,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.
“In response to high prices, State and Federal Energy Ministers are discussing the possibility of introducing new fossil fuel subsidies via a capacity mechanism. This is absolutely the opposite of what’s required because the only time we’re seeing lower wholesale power prices is during the day when there’s abundant solar operating.
“We’d like to see the Federal Government implement a Renewable Energy Storage Target to help more households utilise their cheap solar energy around the clock. This would be good news for the grid and help bring down prices for everyone.”
A significant 84 per cent of solar owners surveyed who currently don’t have a battery are looking to purchase one in the next three years. Cost of battery storage is still seen as a major barrier, but for the largest share of those polled (26 per cent) a government subsidy of at least $3,000-$4,000 would be enough to get them over the line to purchase a battery.
“With the energy chaos of the past few months, it’s no surprise that households are looking for the savings and security offered by storage in their homes,” said Ms Gray.
“We’re also hearing that many people are looking to electrify their household and get off the gas network to untie themselves from spiralling gas prices.”
A staggering 41 per cent of those surveyed who had gas in their households said they would definitely switch to electric alternatives with a government subsidy.
“Big coal and gas companies are cashing in on this energy crisis at the expense of consumers, and it’s time for our new Federal Government to act on their mandate to roll out affordable clean energy.
“It’s a no brainer we should be helping everyday Australians tap into our abundant cheap sunshine with batteries and electric appliances to maximise the benefits.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
Of those surveyed:
85% have solar.
42% have saved 70% or more (or are in credit) on annual electricity costs, and 61% have saved 51% or more.
84% of solar owners without a battery are interested in buying one in the next 3 years, where 20% of solar owners already have one.
When asked how much a government subsidy would need to be for non-battery owners to purchase a battery:
26% said $3-4,000 or more
20% said $5-6,000 or more
10% said the entire cost
(24% unsure, around 7% each said $1-2,000, or above $7,000).
49% of solar owners were moderately to extremely concerned about electricity costs compared to 72% of people without solar.
Australians are locked out of EVs by price and availability
12th August 2022: Australians are locked out of EVs by price and availability
Rising petrol prices is the top concern for Australians worried about cost of living, and most are keen to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) but are being deterred by the higher purchase price, according to a survey of over 1,700 Australians by Clean Transport advocates Solar Citizens.
A sample of 1712 Australians surveyed by Solar Citizens showed that 64 per cent were interested in buying an electric vehicle over the next three years, but a majority named purchase price as the biggest barrier to do so (64%).
“When I did the maths on buying an electric car three years ago, they were too expensive and there weren’t enough models to choose from in Australia. I was prepared to dig a bit deeper for the right car, and there were models I wanted to buy available overseas but not here. Ringing the car dealerships, they weren’t expecting those models here anytime soon. And three years later we're still waiting for the range of affordable models we need to make EV’s more accessible to everyday Australians,” said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.
“Australia just doesn’t have access to the same EVs that other countries do. With strong incentives factored in, the cheapest new EV in Europe is almost $20,000 cheaper than even the most affordable models in Australia.  The key way for us to increase the availability of affordable EVs is to implement strong Fuel Efficiency Standards like the rest of the world.
“While Australians are dealing with the triple whammy of a cost of living crisis, an energy crisis and the climate crisis, Fuel Efficiency Standards would bring a variety of EVs into the country of all different shapes, sizes and costs."
In their survey, Solar Citizens discovered that the price of petrol was the highest cost of living concern across all income brackets, and three-quarters of people interested in buying an EV indicated that they were moderately to extremely concerned about petrol costs.
“The data is telling us that in the face of skyrocketing petrol prices Australians are ready to get in the driver’s seat of an electric car, but the price and availability are keeping them locked out. Mums like me around Australia are missing out on the cost of living savings of running an electric vehicle because there aren’t enough models and vehicles to go around – this needs to change.
“Calculations we’ve been given from industry players also found that for solar owners, it costs between 60c and $1.82 per 100km to run an EV if you charge it in the middle of the day. Compare that with around $22 per 100km for a petrol car with today's outrageous fuel prices.
“Australia is the dumping ground for the world’s inefficient, dirty petrol cars. With rising fuel prices, this is directly hurting our hip pockets. People know that EVs are cheaper to run and safer for the climate and our health, but have been let down by successive Federal Governments that are lagging behind and limiting the flow of affordable EVs into the country – Fuel Efficiency Standards is a long overdue policy we need to unlock Australia’s EV revolution.” said Douglas.
Media Contact: Heidi Douglas (0401 092 570)
 The cheapest EV in Australia is currently the BYD Atto 3 SR, which is $44,381 with a $3000 rebate in some states, coming to $41,381. The cheapest EV in Europe is the Dacia Spring Electric, at €20,850 with a €5000 rebate in France, coming to approximately $23,037 AUD (Data accessed 12th August, 2022).
Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock
8th August 2022: Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock
Clean Transport advocates Solar Citizens have criticised revelations from a report leaked this morning that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Australia’s peak body representing 39 auto brands, is covertly lobbying the government to implement some of the weakest fuel efficiency standards in the world.
“After the passing of the Climate Bill in parliament last week, the Albanese government now has an opportunity to implement Fuel Efficiency Standards with teeth and get us on par with the rest of the world and tackle our skyrocketing transport sector emissions,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“But because we’re so far behind, we have to ensure our standards are the best in the world to give us any chance of catching up.
“The leaked report from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries this morning shows that our car industry is trying to implement a dodgy standard that will see Australia fall short of its Paris commitments and leave Aussies with cars that will cost more over the long run, use more fuel, and pollute more carbon for longer.
“Any standard simply cannot include concessions for hybrid vehicles. The emissions savings that car makers calculate for hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles are much more dramatic than the cuts they actually deliver, so a ‘technology agnostic’ approach just isn’t going to cut it.
“You only have to look across the ditch to New Zealand to see a developed country with a small right-hand drive market, similarly isolated, for an example as to how strong Fuel Efficiency Standards have made a remarkable difference in a short space of time – EV sales have almost tripled since they were introduced last year.
“As today’s report from The Australia Institute also makes abundantly clear, we’re the world’s dumping ground for inefficient vehicles. Had fuel efficiency standards been adopted when the Turnbull government was in power, households, the economy and the climate would all have been better off.”
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal, 0400 723 324